City Symphonies and Ralph Steiner at the Harvard Film Archive

From: Brooke Holgerson (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Aug 07 2006 - 08:28:34 PDT

Hi Frameworkers,

Another night of screenings at the Harvard Film Archive that might be of
interest to some of you. Information is below; please feel free to
contact me with questions. And don't forget - Sidney Peterson's films
are screening Tuesday and Wednesday of this week...

August 14 (Monday) 7 pm
The City Symphony
During the 1920s many filmmakers explored the idea of the city as the
central force in modern life. Referred to as "city symphonies," these
works explored the compelling intersection between nonfiction and
avant-grade modes of expression, using real locations to construct
poetic visions.
/Directed by Mannus Franken and Joris Ivens/
/Netherlands 1929, b/w, silent, 12 min./
A rainy day in Amsterdam provides the inspiration for Joris Ivens'
striking film poem. Although seamless in its presentation of a day in
the life of the Dutch people, the film actually took two years to prepare.
_Rien Que Les Heures_
/Directed by Alberto Cavalcanti/
/France 1925, 16mm, b/w, silent, 45 min./
/French Language Version/
Alberto Cavalcanti presents all walks of life as he chronicles a day in
Paris from dawn to dusk. While faithful to its real life subjects, the
film uses a modernist form which complicates its common classification
as nonfiction. Cavalcanti's film reputedly inspired Dziga Vertov to
create his own city symphony, /Man with a Movie Camera./
_Berlin__: Symphony of a __Great__ __City__ ___
/Directed by Walther Ruttman
//Germany//, 1927, 16mm, b/w, silent, 65 min./
Walther Ruttman's impressionistic vision of Berlin stands as one of the
great "city symphonies" of the silent era. A day-to-night portrait of
the city that deploys kinetic editing and a graphic mode of
cinematography to capture the dynamism of the modern urban environment,
the film set a lasting precedent for the representation of city life in
cinema. Although the events appear to take place during a single spring
day, Ruttman spent eighteen months assembling footage to produce the
final film. Whether classified as a work of nonfiction or the
avant-garde, Ruttman's poetic work remains a classic of cinema.
August 14 (Monday) 9:15 pm
The Films of Ralph Steiner
Trained as a photographer, Cleveland-native Ralph Steiner crafted an
impressive body of work in the 1930s in both experimental and nonfiction
modes. His first major work, /H2O / is an abstract film which focuses on
the rhythmic flow of water and its interplay with light and shadow, and
was recently selected for the National Film Registry. Steiner continued
in this mode with poetic works such as /Mechanical Principles /and /Surf
and Seaweed/ before turning to more ideologically motivated pieces. /Pie
in the Sky/ is a political satire made with members of the Group Theater
(including Elia Kazan and Nykino), a group dedicated to producing
agit-prop films. Along with Paul Strand and Leo Hurwitz Steiner formed
Frontier Films, which sought to expand the possibilities of documentary
film, most notably seen in /The City/, his collaboration with Willard
van Dyke. In his later career Steiner worked as a writer in Hollywood
studios and eventually returned to commercial photography.
/Directed by Ralph Steiner
//US// 1929, 16mm, b/w, silent, 14 min./
_Mechanical Principles_
/Directed by Ralph Steiner/
/US 1930, 16mm, b/w, silent, 10 min./
_Surf and Seaweed_
/Directed by Ralph Steiner/
/US 1931, 16mm, b/w, silent, 11 min./
_Pie in the Sky_
/Directed by Ralph Steiner/
/US 1935, 16mm, b/w, silent, 22 min./
_The City_
/Directed by Ralph Steiner and Willard Van Dyke/
/US 1939, 16mm, b/w, 43 min./

The Harvard Film Archive is located at 24 Quincy St, Cambridge MA.
Tickets are $8 General Admission, $6 Students and Senior Citizens
617-495-4700 or for more information

Brooke Holgerson
Harvard Film Archive
email suppressed
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.